Darksiders II Review
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Darksiders II is an exhilarating action-RPG set in an enormous game world. Featuring an addictive loot system, tons of side quests, and rich gameplay, Darksiders II easily deserves a spot alongside the other greats of the genre.
- Fun combat and combos
- The loot system is highly addicting
- The enormous and engaging game world
- The camera issues
- Some minor visual glitches
- Average narrative
If 2010’s Darksiders was successful by borrowing ideas from gaming’s greatest franchises, then the sequel is an even greater success if only because it perfects some of those tried and trusted ideas. It’s a hodgepodge of exhilarating third-person combat set in an enormous world where giant “Makers” call the shots, new weapons and armor almost always boost your character’s stats, and every dungeon requires some careful platforming and puzzle solving. Yes, it’s easy to say Darksiders has an awful lot in common with familiar franchises, but its older brother—Darksiders II—turns the volume on those ideas up to 11 and smacks you in the face with the sheer definition of the word “epic.” And all of that takes place within the first eight hours, or in other words, just a quarter of the way through the campaign. If you were hoping Vigil could deliver a giant action-RPG adventure, rest assured, this is the biggest, most surprising experiences so far in 2012. It only took two years for the Darksiders franchise to develop into something worthy of standing alongside, if not above, the greatest action-RPGs in recent history.
That may sound like an awful lot of praise, and while every game has its annoying moments, bugs, and odd development choices, Darksiders II gets so much right that it’s easy to overlook those pesky visual glitches and grumpy camera issues. One moment you’ll find yourself riding Despair, your trusty steed, in a vast gray field. You’ll swing a scythe at skeletons, and force Despair to track down more baddies. The next moment you’ll face a hulking colossus stone giant, somehow chopping away bit by bit until the brute is just broken enough to defeat. And another moment you’ll find yourself deep in a dungeon, looting new weapons and armor to upgrade your stats, while searching for that skeleton key to unlock the door you saw 30 minutes ago.
Darksiders II puts you in the role of Death, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It takes place during the events of the original Darksiders. But instead of fighting that balance between heaven and hell as you did as War in the original, the sequel has you play as War’s older brother. Death’s mission is originally one of redemption for his brother, but you quickly learn that this Horseman has a bit of a heart as he tries to help those in the world between heaven and hell. There is plenty here for a full narrative, but the story is definitely not Darksiders II’s strongest point. It becomes a bit convoluted and disjointed and at times it feels Vigil was simply looking for ways to craft a story that allowed for a longer game.
Chances are you aren’t here just for a story, though. Luckily, the combat is exciting enough to push through the otherwise lackluster narrative campaign. Death is unlike his brother War simply because he’s agile, and makes better use of his environment to navigate and solve puzzles. His primary weapons are a pair of scythes, used to quickly slash through hordes of baddies. But his secondary weapons—tied to the triangle button—are often slow-moving, heavy hitters.
Death strings together combos like a familiar Spartan warrior. When you add in a gear like Death Grip to the mix, the possibilities for stringing together lengthy brutal combos are nearly endless. There’s even an ability that allows you to create portals, serving up some healthy environmental damage to unsuspecting opponents. He’s a graceful killer and can quickly dodge enemies’ attacks, with Death’s magic/abilities rounding out his arsenal. He’ll quickly twirl in place, creating something of a blade tornado. Or he’ll erect a gravestone to temporarily unleash his minions. Transforming into a Reaper makes you practically indestructible and anything standing in your path will turn to dust.
Combat is a joy and flexible to the player. You can choose the button masher approach and you’ll do just fine. It is easy, after all, to perform massive combos out of dumb luck. But if you put some attention into training your moves and combos, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to eliminate an entire room of baddies through a single combo.
This is all held together in a fairly extensive upgrading system. Through the course of the lengthy ... (continued on next page)